Editor's note: Due to Covid restrictions, there is a very limited buffet service available. You can help yourself to certain items at breakfast, but most meals are waiter service. Note, too, seating is allocated.
Too often buffet dining is a case of quantity over quality, but despite most meals being served buffet-style, the food on MS Maud is exceptional.
When the ship is sailing in Norway, everything in the restaurant is locally sourced Norwegian fare -- fresh fish, fresh meat, yoghurt, cheese, bread and more is picked up from ports en route, and this freshness can be tasted in every bite. Two out of three meals (breakfast and lunch) tend to be served buffet-style in Norway, with tags on food displays explaining the exact provenance of each dish. Dinner is typically a set three-course waiter-served meal and a printed menu details the description of each course.
Vegetarians and vegans are well-served by the buffets, which always offer a good range of veggie options. And even when there's a three-course set meal, the kitchen team are very flexible and happy to accommodate children (and adults) who don't like what's on the menu -- just inform your waiter of any likes/dislikes or allergies.
Aune (Deck 5): Located at the back of the ship, Aune has floor-to-ceiling windows which allow passengers to enjoy the scenery from wherever they are in the restaurant. Luckily the food matches up to the view. N.B.: Timings may change depending on where the ship is sailing, but below is a rough guide.
Breakfast (7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.): A European-style buffet with plenty of hot and cold options, including sausages, bacon, meatballs, pancakes and eggs (cooked every which way) as well as a large deli selection that includes gravlax, herrings (the Norwegians do love their fish) and cold cut meats. The cereals, yoghurts, fruits, fresh bread, pastries and fruit jams are top notch, and the displays always look clean, neat and appetising. Coffee/tea/juice/water are always included at breakfast and seating is open.
Lunch (12 - 2:30 p.m.): includes a daily choice of meat, fish or vegetarian main dish. What's on offer might include soup, smoked and poached salmon, cold meats, relishes, salads and an outstanding cheese selection. Examples of hot dishes include roast meats, fish, potatoes and lots of root vegetables. Desserts are homemade and delicious -- enjoy brownies, cakes and fruit crisps (like a British fruit crumble) with plenty of vanilla sauce to pour on top. There's also an excellent cheese, cracker and chutney selection if you've space -- Port Salut, Norwegian blue cheese and cream cheese with chives are firm favourites.
Depending on excursion times, the hours for lunch service may vary. Seating is always open.
Overindulging at the breakfast and lunch buffets is understandable, so it's just as well there's portion control at dinner, with the three-course set meal. Menus are creative and always make the most of what is locally available, advocating a 'farm to form' dining ethos. A typical dinner menu might dish up potato and leek soup, braised Norwegian lamb, and chocolate parfait with rhubarb sorbet. If the portions aren't big enough, then the waitstaff will happily give you a second serving on request.
Passengers are allotted an evening dining time slot at the start of the cruise, relevant to the waiter-served meals more than to the buffets. In Norway the first sitting is at 6 p.m., with the rest on the half hour until 8 p.m. (the last sitting). If you don't like the time given to you, it's no problem to get it changed.
The wine list is not extensive, but what there is of good quality. Beer and wine are included at lunch and dinner.
Lindstrom (Deck 5): This is a small restaurant tucked away midship, primarily for suite guests at all times, but open for dinner only for non-suite guests at 25 euros pp.
When sailing the Norwegian coastal route, the cuisine features Norwegian 'Coastal Kitchen' specialities, with a varying daily menu based on local produce picked up en route.
A perk of being a suite passenger is that a waiter-served breakfast can be enjoyed here instead of in the main restaurant.
Sometimes the food is a twist on what is being served in the main restaurant, while sometimes it is unique to Lindstrom. Dishes will include a salad, meat or fish option and a vegetarian option; mains could be local fish such as salmon or halibut, or a meat dish such as duck or lamb. The emphasis is always on local cuisine, recipes and ingredients. Desserts are delicious and there is also always a cheese plate.
The size of the space can be a bit suffocating at times (there are just a handful of tables), and it's nice to mix it up with eating in the other two dining venues.
Fredheim (Deck 5): This is an excellent refurb addition: A casual bistro-style cafe serving an eclectic selection of food all day, including burgers, hot dogs, tortilla wraps and dumplings as well as larger dishes such as grilled chicken breast, steak and salmon, which are always available. You can accompany your meal with a selection of enormous milkshakes.